16-01-06 Revista de Prensa
by Sean Fennessey
The Life Aquatic Studio Sessions featuring Seu Jorge
There's this guy who crawls onto my subway car on my way home from work every now and again. A loud, scraggly man, he always blares, "Ladies and gentlemen, may I please have a minute of your time." This is absolutely not a question, and he is certainly not a polite person. He has no legs, nor a wheelchair. He has an acoustic guitar strapped to his back and insists on performing a song. He'll keenly request a wink-wink donation if his tune rocks your world. This man, who we can call Studebaker for the sake of identification, sings very popular, well-known songs like "...Baby One More Time" and "More Than a Feeling" and "Bootylicious". But he replaces them with his own stoopid-clever lyrics that highlight his plight. "Subway car, can you handle this? No. 6 Line can you handle this? America, can you handle this? I don't think you can handle this!" He's a great guy; I always give him a buck.
Seu Jorge's entrance to the hipster consciousness positioned him as something of a Studebaker. By now the tale of Jorge's re-fashioning of David Bowie's lyrics for his performance in Wes Anderson's The Life Aquatic is old hat-- a cute little DVD commentary story or bar stool chat point at Fat Baby. But his lyrical rejigger, coupled with the fact that he strips down every one of these Hunky Stardust-era glamthems into smoky bossa nova, makes him a regular subway hound. Every tune is a crusty, throaty delight. Unlike Jorge's album, CRU, from earlier in 2005, there's lots of joy in his voice. The windswept, acoustic production serves him well. "Ziggy Stardust" in particular opens him up to all sorts of wailing and gospelized hoots. The structure and chords are precisely the same. But he interweaves his own little guttural impudence onto as time-tested a chorus as I can recall. Even "Team Zissou", the lone original, has got a rollicking early Bowie at the Beeb vibe to it, all croons and crafts with his vocal range. The chorus rips soprano to alto, "Teeeeammmma Zee-suuuuuuu, underwater, I luhrve you."
Yet at some point you've got to ask yourself what use you'll have for this record. The covers, while stirring, are never going to stack up with the originals. Jorge is an intriguing voice in a continually emerging Brazilian scene-- not quite a successor to Caetano Veloso or Gilberto Gil, but at least a wingman with a sharp eye for social distortion. The breathy CRU said as much. So this is not quite as monumental a release as you'd like to see from a talent like him. Still, as back porch BBQ music? A gem. Hell, I'd give Seu Jorge a buck if I saw him right now.
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